Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2010, 12:00 am

Need for creative freedom brings R.I. design business to life

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Seth Kabala, seth@sethkabala.com

Photo: Seth Kabala / correspondent
Shalom Shultz shows some of the cards and calendars she designed.
Shalom Shultz caught the art bug early in life, so it was no surprise when she went on to get a bachelor's degree in graphic design.

"I knew I wanted to be an artist when I grew up."

After graduating from college, she worked for a local design firm for four years before deciding to open her own Rock Island-based graphic design business, creating greeting cards, note cards, notebooks, gift tags, shower invitations and personalized gifts.

"I was tired of only getting to design other peoples' visions," she said. "I wanted to create things that made me happy."

She uses botanical objects to create designs, finding inspiration in everything from birds and fruit to patterns in paper and fabric. "I'm always sketching or collecting pictures to put into my idea file for future use.

"I wish I could afford to hire someone to do all the non-creative tasks in running a business so I could spend all my time on creating new designs," she said. "I love to think that something I truly enjoyed creating is making someone in this world smile."

Ms. Shultz connects regularly with fellow designers on forums at etsy.com — a Web site dedicated to handcrafted products. The site is "a great place to ask questions and get advice," she said.

Thinking of starting your own business? Ms. Schultz's recommendation is to "Make sure you love what you do and are confident that you belong with the best of the best in your category."

Multiple failures don't justify quitting, she said. Keep trying, improve and "figure out a way to make your dream work."

To see Ms. Schultz's work, visit shalomscottagehome.com.